Sucheta Dalal :Thums Up: Cat & Mouse games
Sucheta Dalal

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Thums Up: Cat & Mouse games   

February 23, 2010

Although Thums Up’s adverts don’t appeal to me… I neither like Akshay Kumar nor his babes nor his drink nor his stunts… I admire the communication for its single-mindedness of purpose. The positioning of the brand and the target audience is crystal clear. Thums Up, unlike Pepsi and Coke, is focussed on grabbing the eye balls of macho studs (read: wannabe macho studs), and the TVCs starring Akshay, babes and the thrills are targeted at only that particular segment. To state it rudely, the all-cash, all-brawn sods with no culture or class. Fair enough.


So, over the past few years, Akshay Kumar has been indulging in dangerous stunts for the brand. He sometimes competes with other studs, on other occasions with his babes, or at times even with himself. The template and the ‘raw’ ingredients are in place. And the only fresh variable each new season offers is the sort of stunt the actor will pull to get the adrenaline going.


Thums Up’s new television commercial has Akshay Kumar dabbling in the extreme sport called ‘Parkour’. Wiki defines the sport as such: ‘Parkour or l'art du déplacement is the physical discipline of training to overcome any obstacle within one's path by adapting one's movements to the environment. It is a non-competitive, physical discipline of French origin in which participants run along a route, attempting to negotiate obstacles in the most efficient way possible, as if moving in an emergency situation.’ Frankly, I have no idea what that means! 


What the TVC features is a typical cat-and-mouse chase. Man chases babe. Babe has the Thums Up bottle. Man wants Thums Up. Babe wants man. Man gets babe and Thums Up. Cool! The TVC opens with Akshay Kumar strolling by, sipping his Thums Up. A babe bungee jumps onto him, grabs the bottle, and flies away. The macho man chases her into the air, on his own two feet, and retrieves the ‘treasure’. The madness continues. This time the star is seen riding a bike. The babe grabs the bottle from him and another chase gets underway. The stud grabs a vase from the streets, chucks it at the babe. The babe prefers the vase, and drops the bottle. Akshay skids on his bike to catch the falling bottle. Finally, he grabs the girl from behind and demands to know why the babe follows him everywhere. The girl coos, "So that you can follow me."


Basically, a nonsense, irrational ad, a replica of the nonsense action movies the star often does. But I am pretty sure such advertising works for the targeted audience. The spirit of action, adventure and attitude comes through as always. And it also helps the brand differentiate itself in the crowded cola market.


One more thing: The background track keeps buzzing with the words, ‘Pakkad pakkad’ (catch, catch). And in the last shot, as he clasps the babe from behind, the stud orders her, ‘Kholo!’ (open). The advertiser may officially deny this, but I think there is clear sexual innuendo playing out here. Good idea. What’s the point of all the hard work if it doesn’t lead to a reward? 

Anil Thakraney


-- Sucheta Dalal